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PRESS RELEASE - Downing Ushers Legislation Relieving Municipal Assessors’ Administrative Burden to Governor’s Desk
December 10, 2009

BOSTON – Today the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate passed legislation providing city and town assessors an extra month to mail third quarter property tax bills, thereby affording additional time for the state Department of Revenue (DOR) to certify all tax rates and municipalities the ability to send correct tax bills. State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield), Chair of the Joint Committee on Revenue, worked to quickly shepherd the bill through the legislative process, extending the mailing deadline to January 30, 2010. 
 
There is currently a backlog of tax certifications; to date, only 154 of the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities are certified by the DOR.  A city or town must have its tax rate certified prior to sending out actual tax bills, however, they may send a preliminary (estimated) tax bill for the third quarter without certification. Preliminary bills often mean less revenue collected for towns, a disproportionately high fourth quarter bill for taxpayers, and a delayed abatement process.
 
“Many communities can’t wait for actual bills to be sent in the fourth quarter – their budgets simply can’t withstand the delay in revenue collection,” said Downing. “This legislation allows time for the DOR to finish its work and for cities and towns to send accurate bills to its taxpayers in January.”
 
Several changed circumstances led to the delayed certifications this year, including staffing reductions at DOR, budget adjustments by cities and towns resulting in late applications, and a larger-than-average pool of triennial re-certifications.
 
S.2226, An Act Relative to Extending the Deadline for Mailing Quarterly Tax Bills authorizes communities to send their bills in January 2010, rather than by the end of this month.  Payment of third quarter taxes, whether actual or estimated, will be due 30 days after the bill is sent.
 
The legislation is now before the Governor for his final approval. He has ten days to review and act on the proposal. 
 
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